When Mariano Rivera was shut down with a sore arm last September, it seemed to some like the beginning of the end for the greatest closer of all time.
Mariano was at his locker when the clubhouse opened to the media this morning and we chatted for about 20 minutes.
When I asked him about his arm, he smiled. “Check the stats,” he said. “Check them and come back to me.”
So I did. Counting the end of last season, the playoffs and spring training, Rivera has pitched 10 innings. He has allowed three hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts.
No walks in 11 innings? That doesn’t sound like somebody with health problems. I understand that’s a small sample, but it is somewhat revealing.
If the Yankees don’t abuse Rivera, there’s no reason he can’t pitch effectively for two, three or four more seasons. He remains in excellent condition and he’s working on pitches to add to his cut fastball.
“People forget Mo can pitch,” Jorge Posada said. “He locates the ball, he changes speeds sometimes. Heâ€™s not just throwing the ball. Thatâ€™s why heâ€™s so successful.”
UPDATE: Rivera just pitched the sixth inning. Three outs in six pitches. His line this spring is: 6 3 0 0 0 5